What You Did To Me
by Peter Hyatt
Have you ever been "injured" by someone?
Was the injury physical, or psychological?
Or, perhaps, was it both? The language that you use may give us insight into the type of "hurt" or "wounding" that took place, how long ago it happened, and if you are fully recovered, or the impact continues, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to this day. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can leave the victim with nightmares, hyper vigilance, and other difficult issues of which to deal with, and can sometimes be seen in the language.
We have previously learned that sexual abuse victims often speak of 'coverings' of sorts, like towels, or blankets.
"I got out of the shower, toweled off, got dressed and went to work."
It is not necessary for the subject to tell us that he dried himself off with a towel. No one is likely to think he got out of the shower and ran around his backyard naked until he was dry. Yet, for the subject, it was important enough to enter his language.
We find that coverings of sorts enter the language of sexual abuse victims, but we also find it enter the language of PTSD sufferers, such as those who were on heightened alert (elevated hormones) in combat. They sometimes "need" to feel "covered." Another example:
"So, I went to bed, pulled up the covers, and went to sleep."
As an interviewer, when I find 'coverings' enter the language, I am on alert for possible sexual abuse concerns, and/or PTSD. It generally does not take much to get to the reason why a 'covering' entered the language.
With people who continue to suffer, like a PTSD victim, language can show the pain continuing. Sometimes, in extreme cases, they can even slip into present tense verbs, but that will be for another article.
In anger, people will sometimes strike back at the one who "wounded" them with:
"What you did to me..." or "You think I forgot what you did to me?"
This stands in contrast to:
"What you have done to me..." or "You think I forgot what you have done to me?"
This is a case of "did" versus "have done" in the language of the subject.
The difference, though not always apparent to the casual listener, can be significant.
Everyone of us has been hurt, in some way or another, by another human being. As a race of people, we desperately need the restraint of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" rehearsed in our hearing from an early age onward.
Has someone ever "hurt" you?
In entering into my personal, subjective dictionary, I have a specific "hurt" in mind. It is the psychological hurt, say of a betrayal.
Let's say that someone cut you with a knife, inadvertently. The timing of the event may figure into the language:
"I was cut with a knife by accident."
"I have been cut with a knife by accident."
The second sentence may be more likely heard from someone who has not healed from the cut.
In psychological trauma or hurt, sometimes the subject never fully recovers (more on this later) from the wound and the language is similar to the knife cut that has yet to heal.
The next time you find yourself saying "have done" rather than "did", explore your own language and see if the event continues to impact you.
Perhaps it was an insult. Great insults last a long time. If you can recall an insult from long ago, perhaps it still has sting to it.
What words do you use to describe it?
Is it ongoing, or it is something you have moved past and does not 'excite' the brain's chemistry as it once did?
It is likely that you will find, in your own life, that your language will reveal the difference.